Why Weight loss Diets Fail

A big part of what we seek to do for our EDGE community is to educate; to help you move better, feel better, be as happy as you can possibly be and, ultimately, to be the best version of yourself. When we introduce a new nutrition approach or are looking to make changes, it is always good to learn from others mistakes!

The top 5 reasons most diets fail:

1. Overly restrictive

By this we mean massively reducing your calorie intake to a level that you are cranky, short tempered and constantly thinking about the food you can’t eat! Sometimes this involves cutting entire food groups, most notably carbs. The aggressive calorie deficit of sometimes 30% or more is just not sustainable for any period of time to enable your body to drop weight. Some people can last a couple of days maybe even a week or more but they end up on a food binge, eating everything in site resulting a massive calorie surplus. This ultimately leads to feeling frustrated, angry and even depressed at a “failed” attempt! While aggressive calorie restriction can work, in our experience it needs to be planned, organised and with a short window of time.

The solution– look at the bigger picture. Look at improving health, improving your intake of more nutritious foods, increase your activity levels and build a smaller calorie deficit that is negatively impacting your life. Fat loss will be slower, more sustainable and have less of an impact on your mental health.

2. Over-estimating Calories “Burned”

Calorie Burners, Calorie chambers and calorie busting classes are very popular and with good reason. We even have our own “ON-BEAT’ – HR monitored class. Who doesn’t like to see when we have burned a “1000 calories in 45 minutes”! The problem with this is that the majority of these systems and HR tracking software overestimates the amount of calories we are burning in a session. This also has the added effect of wanting to do “calorie burners” all the time and can increase risk of injury which can leads to less movement or training which is the opposite of what we want to happen.

The solution – don’t use ‘calories burned’ as a way to increase calorie intake. Instead use exercise and training as part of what you do to feel and look better.

3. Under-estimating Calorie Intake

No matter how good you are at tracking calories, after a while we become complacent, we forget the “healthy treat” we had with our coffee or the portion sizes start to sneak back up. Whatever way it happens, it happens, and subconsciously or not, calories will soon start to increase over time.

The solution – we actually plan this into our approach for some of our clients when moving from tracking calories to eyeing portion sizes or ‘guess-timations’. It is an important part of progressing and allowing you to live your life and still get results.

4. Restricting for Too Long

This is when you overstay your welcome! Restricting calories for too long or trying to diet for too long can lead to a natural decrease in your NEAT (movement, steps daily activity) and training drive, training performance. Also, the impact of trying to diet all the time on your mental health is something not to be underestimated.

The solution – There is nothing wrong with dieting but we no one should be in a deficit or restrictive period all the time. Plan for maintenance phase or, better still, switch the focus to training goals. Whichever approach you use, it is important to schedule it in and make it happen!

5. Short term focus

This is the reason for yo-yo dieting. The problem with the majority of diets is that they have a short-term focus with a short-term goal- 2 weeks, 4 weeks, 6 weeks…So while you may be successful in the short term once old habits come back so will the weight gain.

The solution – Weight gain didn’t happen overnight, and neither will weight loss

We tend to do this instead of look at creating long lasting life changing habits. Changing behaviour isn’t straight forward and we shouldn’t look to change everything at once. Ultimately we want to improve our nutrition choices to lead us to a balanced nutrition approach. As behaviour expert  James Clear says, ‘small changes can have big effects’.